The networks we have don’t care to spend money on OTA so it could be quite slow due to that. Growing up there was no cable TV. It was only antenna. Everyone had a tv with an antenna. Networks made their money from the commercials they played. We are so far from that now. However many people have cut the cord and they are streaming and using antenna which saves a lot of money each year. The networks hate this. They are used to getting so much revenue from cable. It’s the way things are going.
Some weeks ago I noticed that Tivo+ channels were populating in my guide. Tivo+ is a new service of streaming channels from Tivo. The content is weak, in my opinion (you can view a list of the offerings here).
Around the same time, my Tivo Roamio started acting more buggy than usual: Frequent reboots and delays in beginning playback of a recorded show. Whenever I attempt to access "User Preferences", initially to see if I could remove the Tivo+ channels from my guide, the box would hang then reboot. To this day I cannot access User Preferences on my Roamio.
Soon I realized that my box was attempting to play ads before playback of my recorded content. I say attempting to play ads as the commercial would never fully and completely play. There would be a delay, the box would display part of a commercial (in jerky, stuttered form with incredibly loud audio), another delay, then finally play my show.
Some research indicated that Tivo had started "Pre-roll ads" on their service. That's right: On a box that you own and a service that you pay for, Tivo is forcing its customers to view ads before watching their recorded content.
The scheme is bad enough if it was functional. Tivo has sold itself on the ability to skip advertisements. The service can even be configured to automatically skip commercials completely on most popular (American) shows. However, this pre-roll ad concept was so poorly implemented that social media and the internet is abuzz with complaints of reboots and buggy behaviour.
Fortunately you can request the pre-roll ads be disabled. You'll need to call into Customer Service. And while this will remove the (attempted?) playback of ads prior to viewing your recorded shows, it hasn't restored the reasonable stability of my Roamio. And the Tivo+ channels still populate in my guide.
I had requested they remove the startup ads from my Bolt and they did within 72 hours of the request. I’ll tell you that I have not been able to access the user preferences for at least 2 months now. It hangs, the screen goes black like it’s rebooting and then returns to the menu screen. I’m not sure who did the testing but it’s the most sloppy implementation I’ve ever seen. I’m also upset that they put ads on this machine that cost me $800 Canadian to buy. I have the lifetime guide. I never thought they would stoop to this dirty trick. The TiVo+ content is useless to me.
All of this indicates to me they are struggling now and they are trying new things to boost income. They are frantically introducing features without proper testing. I’m sensing a big panic situation with TiVo. It’s not good because would I buy another one? No way. Not with my current perception of the company. I still think that their system is top notch compared to other options available but if they are going to screw up the firmware and throw useless content onto the TiVo’s which slows them down and breaks them then my confidence is lost in them.
@FunkyTown, thanks for the update... but could you clarify, please?
Have the issues you and Jase88 mentioned on Apr. 25 been fixed? Both of you mentioned that while you could get the TiVo folks to remove the pre-roll ads, you could no longer access user preferences on your boxes without problems, and that stability in general has gone into the toilet...
On a different note, reviews on Amazon include complaints that while previous models could be activated in Canada, the Bolt OTA couldn't at all. Is it just that it's more convoluted to activate here?
Yes that’s true. The user preference panel is not working. There’s nothing I need to change there so it’s not a big issue for me. It would become an issue if I needed to make a change. They will likely fix it in the next firmware release.
I have a Bolt and a Roamio. I had no issues activating either one. I ordered them directly from TiVo with the full lifetime programming already on them. Then I had them shipped to ogdensburg New York which is a 45 to 50 minute drive from my house. I drove down and picked the machine up at the UPS depot. When I got home I plugged it in and it downloaded the program info and worked. I don’t understand why other people could not activate. I bought my Bolt in 2018.
I usually buy used ones with Lifetime accounts attached if I can find them. Even if you aren’t a TiVo customer, if you find a used one, you shouldn’t have any problem activating it on your account, although I’d phone TiVo and ask the procedure first.
In a perfect world, TiVo would prefer it if you had the previous owner call-in the deactivation from their account, but I’ve found three at thrift-stores in the past, all with Lifetime (one for $6.50!), and I just told the CSR “I don’t know who the previous owner is, I bought it at a thrift store”, and they added them all to my account. Kajiji works too. If you live close to a U.S. border, SCORE!
As above, my User Preferences menu is still not accessible. It seems the TiVo+ update did at least two things: (1) Pre-roll ads, and (2) TiVO+ channels appear in the guide. Even with the pre-roll ads disabled, the TIVO+ channels still appear in the guide.
With respect to Canadian activation: In order to setup my TIVO account for the Roamio, an American address was required. The CSR simply used a fake Texas address for this purpose as their system apparently won't recognize Canadian addresses. I find this odd as the box itself had no issues detecting Canadian broadcast TV stations and providing the guide data for these channels. Clearly there is a disconnect between their account/billing systems and channel/guide data infrastructure. I can't speak to the Bolt activation in Canada specifically. Though I wouldn't be surprised if the same US-based address requirement exists.
What I find strange is that they would blacklist any country. They seem to be scrambling for sales right now with all of this advertising stuff that they’re pumping into the machines and yet they’re giving people in Canada a hard time to activate the machine? They can’t be that hard up for money and sales if they don’t want to sell to us here in Canada. It really sounds like maybe it’s bad management there.
The TIVO existing and potential customer base in Canada is likely very small. I wouldn't consider it a "blacklist" so much as they likely aren't willing to put the development cost into updating their billing/account system for such a small market. Unlike in the US, their platform isn't compatible with most cable/BDU systems in Canada. So that leaves the odd cable system and OTA users.
With TiVo, you enter 00000 as the zip code, which then brings up Canadian suppliers, whether satellite, OTA, or cable companies who use cable cards. There may be a couple in Quebec? As far as a dummy U.S. address, that may be new, as I’ve had an account for nearly 20 years...
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